We are living in a world gone social. Social media has fundamentally changed the way consumers purchase products and services, the marketing and customer service strategies companies employ, and the way leaders engage with their people. If you think social media is just a fad or trend for “those young folks,” then you need to catch up. It’s not a trend or fad; it’s today’s reality.
I recently read A World Gone Social – How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, written by Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt. I connected with Ted on Twitter a few years ago. In the time since, we have connected “in real life” and have mutually supported each other’s social media efforts. If there is anyone you should listen to when it comes to social media, it’s Ted. In reading his book, I came away with three implications that leaders must address in order to lead in the social age.
1. Trust trumps all – Trust is the bedrock of any successful relationship, and when it comes to leading in a social world, it’s doubly important. Whether you are leading employees who work remotely, or representing your organization through social media, your integrity is paramount in the social world. Representing yourself in a certain way, only to behave in a way inconsistent with your stated values, will erode trust in your leadership faster than anything else. Leading in a social world is no different from leading in any other context. You need to be trustworthy, honest, ethical, and committed to doing the right thing. The big difference of leading in a social world is that if you aren’t trustworthy, everyone will know it – instantaneously.
2. Freely share your expertise – Social leaders share their expertise freely without expecting anything in return. You get what you give in the social world. If you’re generous and gracious, people will be generous and gracious in return. If you feel compelled to constantly toot your own horn at the expense of others, you’ll find yourself alone and without support. Ted and his Switch & Shift partner Shawn Murphy, have been extremely generous in supporting my social media efforts. They’ve done it without expecting anything in return, but because of their generosity, they have cultivated a tribe of individuals willing to give back and support them. Leaders who give are those who get the most support from their team.
3. Leverage the expertise of your network – Social media has allowed us to connect one-on-one with experts in virtually any field anywhere in the world. Leaders no longer hold all the information and answers in today’s workplace. Your employees can acquire the information they need nearly instantaneously through their social media networks. This changes the leader’s job from one of being a director to that of facilitator. Collaboration is the key to working effectively in the 21st century and there is tremendous power and knowledge in your network.
Social media has opened new doors for leaders to empower their people through sharing information openly and tapping into the vast expertise of their network of relationships. Above all, trust is an absolute essential ingredient for leading successfully in the social world, and that’s a trend that will never go out of style.